Measles and rubella update: European Region off track for elimination

Measles

Data now available for the full calendar year 2013 show that measles was widespread in the European Region, with 36 Member States (out of 53) reporting a total of 31 617 measles cases. This represents a 17% increase over 2012 (with 27 134 cases) and a 336% increase compared to 2007 (7247 cases).

The 28 Member States constituting the European Union reported 34% of all cases in the Region in 2013, while the highest incidence per million population for 2013 was reported in Georgia (1830) followed by Turkey (98).

Measles affected all ages, with over one third of the cases aged 20 years and older.

Rubella

For 2013, 39 139 rubella cases were reported in 22 countries of the WHO European Region among 42 (79%) countries submitting rubella data (including zero reporting). The cases were reported almost exclusively by Poland (n=38 585; 99%), which also had the highest incidence per million population (1007). This represents an increase compared to 2012, when 29 601 cases were reported in the Region.

Rubella also affected all age groups, with over half of cases aged 15–19 and 1 in 4 aged 20 or older.

Accelerated action to eliminate measles and rubella

The current epidemiological situation of measles and rubella demonstrates that intensified efforts and the commitment of all those involved, particularly politicians, decision makers, public health authorities and health care workers, are needed to reach the goal of measles and rubella elimination in the Region.

The need for urgent action to stop endemic transmission of these preventable diseases will be a major topic of discussion at the regional meeting of national immunization programme managers taking place in Antalya, Turkey on 18–20 March 2014.

WHO EpiBrief

The latest “WHO EpiBrief” provides more information on the epidemiological situation for measles and rubella in the WHO European Region.